With all the change and transition going on in our community, I’m pleased to highlight an exciting change here at JCRC. Last week, the JCRC Council (the representative body of our 43-member organizations) elected our leadership for the coming year, including our new President, Stacey Bloom.
Stacey and I have been working together in one way or another for nearly seven years now, and I’m thrilled that JCRC and our community will have the opportunity to benefit from her leadership in this new role.
We sat down with Stacey and asked her to share a little bit about herself with all of us:
Tell us something personal about yourself.
I grew up just south of Boston, in Braintree, where I still live—just a few minutes from my parents and sister. I am lucky to have family nearby, since I work full time as an assistant general counsel for a busy state agency and I’m a full-time mom to an amazing five-year-old boy. Before I became a mom, I had more of an opportunity to indulge my love of travelling, a love I am imparting to my son. I am also an avid history buff, with a passion for World War II (I encourage everyone to take a visit to the WWII Museum in Natick – it’s a hidden gem) and Middle Eastern history.
What first drew you to JCRC?
I was active in CJP’s Young Leadership Division (YLD) and was the 2009 YLD campaign chair. During that time both Bill Gabovitch and Jill Goldenberg (who are now both past Presidents of JCRC) reached out to me to talk about JCRC. They spoke about JCRC’s mission and work—I found that this mission aligned with my core values, and that this was work that I wanted to be a part of, as it enabled me to continue down the same path I had been forged in the past. Specifically, I had worked in politics—both local and statewide—since high school. After law school I did a stint on a Scott Harshbarger’s gubernatorial campaign because I was inspired by his commitment to advocate for the weakest members of our society—those individuals who had no voice in the public arena. JCRC spoke to my belief in civic engagement, and to what we as a Jewish community could do to advocate for the elderly, the poor, and the disenfranchised.
I also came with a passion for Israel advocacy. Growing up, my parents always stressed the importance of Israel. They talked about Israel with great pride and instilled a love of Israel in my sister and me. My many visits to Israel not only solidified the lessons my parents taught me, but also made me even more committed to helping others understand Israel and its importance to the Jewish community and the Jewish people. My work with JCRC has allowed me to engage in issues that speak to my values in very different, but equally important ways.
What was the first moment when you knew this was the right fit?
I joined JCRC’s Council as a community representative in 2010 and the Board in 2011. At one of my first meetings, I floated an idea about how we could tackle some issue—I don’t even remember what it was now—in a way that was different from the proposal on the agenda and what was currently under discussion. After mulling over whether I should weigh in as a very new JCRC Board member, I plunged in and offered my differing view point. Bill, then the President, listened to my rationale about a change in approach, and immediately responded, “Good idea—we’ll do it your way.” What resonated in that moment was that it didn’t matter how new you were to the organization, your voice and input were valued, and you were truly considered to be a full participant at the table. That moment was an important one to me. The idea that everyone around the table has something to contribute is one I hope to impart to all Board members, new and experienced alike.
So now you’re Bill, so to speak—setting the agenda, leading the Board. What’s important as you look ahead?
During the last year we began discussions with the Board and Council about JCRC’s need to respond to changing demographics of the Greater Boston Jewish community and the new challenges facing our community. During the last 70 years we have been “the table” where the organized community hashes out our views. As we move forward, we need to ensure that JCRC attracts and cultivates the next generation of leaders and engages them in tackling the issues our community and society will face in the future.
In looking at JCRC’s future and the challenges and opportunities it presents, we don’t have to reinvent who we are; we need to renew who we are, without losing our sense of mission or our purpose. We will need to respond to new challenges in ways that underscore our organizational identity as a force for change and a resource for our community and greater society, and continue to represent our most cherished Jewish values.
Any final thoughts you’d like to share about JCRC?
As challenging as these times are, they’re also exciting. Our work has that much more importance and urgency, and presents an opportunity to bring people in; young people, people who haven’t been involved before. JCRC can be a part of helping them realize their vision for change. We live at a time when people really want to ACT and are rejecting apathy and disengagement. It’s up to us to help engage or reengage people who are hungry to make a difference. JCRC is uniquely positioned to meet the challenges ahead as we work with our community and our partner organizations to advocate for change and advocate for our Jewish values. The most challenging times also provide the most opportunity; and I’m grateful that the Council has entrusted me to lead JCRC in these times.
At the annual meeting, our Council also elected the following members to our leadership: Vice President Elise Busny, Vice President Sam Gechter, Secretary Ben Pearlman, Assistant Secretary Margie Ross Decter; our new Board members Josef Blumenfeld, Nicole Lieberman Gann, Rav Claudia Kreiman, Nathan Rothstein, and Debbie Isaacson; and our new Community Representatives to the Council: Elizabeth Bonney-Cohen, Lynda Bussgang, Abby Flam, Ilise (Lisie) Krieger, and Emily Levine. We welcome them all and thank them for taking on new roles in service to our community. And we look forward to working together in partnership with Stacey as our new president.